Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

Away in a manger
Our Christmas Eve service was beautiful again this year! I love the way that we weave the pageant and Holy Eucharist together. I'm posting the few pictures I have and I am so sorry if you can't find your favorite angel or shepherd here. I'll keep looking for more photos. Meanwhile enjoy the season of Christmas! May the wonder and joy of this season be a blessing for all of us, and may we be blessings for one another and for the world!

The Junior Choir!

Shepherds and animals wait...

The Heavenly Host share the good news!

Mary and Joseph stand with Rev. Peter at Communion.

The three Magi and their Royal Page.

Mary and Joseph after their big day.

Mary and our precious baby Jesus.

Our wonderful Narrators!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent in the Atrium

We are having a really lovely advent in the True Vine Atrium! The children have been working so well with real focus and joy. All of the History of the Kingdom of God work that we did this fall has made a big impact on how we are seeing the infancy narratives and prophecies. I've been amazed by the depth of the connections the children are making.

On Advent two, we took a look at the prophecies we learned in Level One of the Catechesis and began to synthesize them. I wrote about this presentation and a bit about the role of prophecy in a previous post. The conversation was so rich this year - and the children quickly pointed out several themes they saw in the prophecies. They talked about "little and big," the presence of light and darkness, and the Kingdom of God in the prophecies.

Later in the morning two children presented the scripture and material telling of Mary's visit to Elizabeth to the group. As we pondered what more we might learn about Mary from this moment, we compared the very humble way that Mary saw herself with the amazing role she was given by God. One child connected our work with the prophecies and our thoughts about Mary together in a beautiful way: He said that God took all of that light and the whole kingdom of God and put them in Mary! I've been thinking about his words ever since. What a blessing it is to be in the atrium in advent!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sculpey Figures

Several people have asked about the Infancy Narrative figures we recently replaced so I thought I'd post a few photos of them. We generally make our figures out of sculpey polymer clay built on an aluminum foil base. Scupey is a great clay to use and I think it is attractive to the children. We occasionally have trouble with chipping or with the necks breaking on the people when they are dropped, but overall the figures are pretty durable. In the photo above you can see the new shepherd and sheep we made.

This is the Heavenly Host who appear to the shepherds in the field.

This is our new Joseph and Mary from the birth of Jesus.

And here is our new wiseman.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Preparations!

Take a look at these advent elves! As we began our ninth advent with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd we found that it was time to replace many of the figures from our infancy narratives. Lynn, Sarah, Terri, Deb and I spent a day this week recreating wise men, Mary and Elizabeth, angels and sheep for little hands to hold this December. What a pleasure! Thank you to these special helpers!

Advent begins tomorrow! How will you be observing the season with your family this year? Check out the post, Advent Begins if you need some inspiration!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advent Begins - Try This!

This Sunday we begin a new year in the Church and we start the season of advent! Observing advent is a great way to resist the busyness and commercialism of the holidays and to prepare for a meaningful Christmas. For a great overview of the season of Advent, take a look at this video from Busted Halo.

At Church, we will begin the season with a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for our Pantry Shelf Outreach program. This Friday, November 30th at 6:00 pm join us for dinner and advent wreath making! You can make an advent wreath for your home - everything will be provided for only $10! If you already have a wreath, pick up new candles and take a look at the daily meditation books and calendars that will be available. **

Sharon Pearson posted an article about advent calendars on her wonderful blog Building Faith. She includes links to some great online calendars for the season that you might like to explore. I'm really excited to try these very cool templates for Praying in Color from Sybil Macbeth. If you haven't heard about praying in color check out her books or blog to learn more. You might also like the Advent Conspiracy - take a look at the site and watch the promo video to discover ways to make Christmas more meaningful this year.

Now is the time to figure out how to make this advent special for you and your family. It doesn't have to be much - light your wreath at dinner, say a special prayer together at bedtime, create a prayer wall out of post it notes that everyone can help build or make a prayer chain to mark the days until Christmas. Make time to volunteer and donate money to those in need during this holy season. Take a little time now to decide how you would like to grow closer to God this advent! You'll be glad you did!

**Don't worry - wreaths, candles, booklets and calendars will be available in the Front Hall at Church on Sunday if you can't make it to the Spaghetti Dinner!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Episcopal Visitation 2012

The Rt. Rev. David Bowman, Assisting Bishop of Ohio, will be worshiping with us at our 10:30 am service this Sunday! Three Christ Church young people will be confirmed and five adults will be received into the Episcopal Church or will renew their vows.  Please join me in praying for these faithful parishioners as we head into the weekend: Libby, Callie, Shanna, George, Deborah, Kathleen, Ryan, and Laura.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Altar Cards

Recently the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd made it possible for members to subscribe and view our material manuals online instead of in print format. These material manuals include clear directions for making the materials and now have pictures of the original materials from Rome. They are really incredible! I've been visiting every material in the manual before presenting it this year, and have learned so much! The manuals represent a tremendous amount of work, very thoughtfully done, and I am so grateful. 

While looking through the manual for the True Vine Atrium, I came across these cards which present pictures of the articles of the altar and their significance.  I had to make them right away! Somehow I missed these cards in my training, and as soon as I saw them I knew that they would meet a real need in the children, and allow them to synthesize what they have learned about the altar in a new way. I offered the cards to several groups of children last Sunday and I could almost see the connections being made in their minds as they worked. After matching all the cards, the children asked if they could add the articles from our sacristy cabinet to the work. They were very satisfied with the material!

I can't count the number of times that the "rightness" of the materials has been proven to me since I began working with the Catechesis. Sometimes, the way a work is presented or made doesn't make sense to me and I am tempted to change it. But I consistently find that the wisdom of the materials comes to light when I see the children at work. Other times, I'll find that something I have sensed is not working is actually being done wrong! Or, as in this case, I'll find that a need I am only vaguely aware of has already been addressed with a material I have yet to discover! I've come to trust the wisdom of the Catechesis and the 50+ years of observation, experimentation, and prayer that it represents. I'm so blessed to be a part of it! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

History of the Kingdom of God

On Sunday in the True Vine Atrium we will be opening this box once again to contemplate the History of the Kingdom of God. You can read more about this presentation in a post from last year called The Fettuccia. We began this work last Sunday when I narrated the history for small groups of children to ponder. This week we will take over the first floor with our very long ribbon and meditate once again on the unity and vastness of the Kingdom.

If you have a child in the True Vine Atrium please do what you can to bring him or her this Sunday, and be on time! We will keep working with the History of the Kingdom of God throughout the atrium year, but this is an impressionistic lesson and there is no substitute for being there when the ribbon is unrolled!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Communal Prayer

This year I've been making some changes in Communal Prayer in the True Vine Atrium. For the last several years, the children have been leading a fairly structured service of songs, prayers and readings at the end of each atrium. This has been fine but unremarkable.

Last summer when I was training for Level Three catechesis I realized that this type of formal prayer was intended to be used with the 9-12 year old children. Communal prayer for the 6-9 year olds is meant to be an expansion of the open and spontaneous prayer practiced with the youngest children. This was a huge surprise to me! But I was relieved to learn that I've been doing this "wrong" because I felt intuitively that we weren't meeting the children's needs with our prayer service, and that we could probably be doing much more by doing less.

Since we began meeting in September I have been experimenting with a more relaxed prayer time. Generally I have been picking a few songs to sing together and reading a psalm from a prayer card, or a piece of scripture that is meaningful. I've begun inviting a bit of spontaneous prayer from the children and it is going well. Up to this point, I've been leading (with a little help from the children), but now that we are becoming accustomed to this style of prayer I will be asking children to take the lead. I still feel unsure about what this prayer time will look like, but I believe we are on the road, and I will keep looking to the children to lead the way!

We've been incorporating children's artwork into our prayer time when possible.  Last Sunday we had two lovely prayer cards copied by the children that we read and prayed together. I took some photos and have included them in this post for you to enjoy.

Below you can see the prayer table from Sunday. Our flowers were brightly colored and very attractive to the children! Every flower was used and the table was brimming! It makes me happy just looking at it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blessing of the Animals, Part Two!

In addition to the exotic animals who visited our Church Sunday, many pets made their way up the aisle for a blessing as well! I hope you enjoy these photos of parishioners and their animal friends!

Many thanks to parishioner Kimberly Shepherd, of Kats Eye on Life Photography for her candid shots of our celebration. You can see more great pictures by Plain Dealer photographer Gus Chan in the Photo Section of the Plain Dealer online. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blessing of the Animals!

Our service in honor of St. Francis was wonderful this morning, and just as crazy as you might imagine! 

Here are some pictures of the exotic animals that took part in the Parade of Animals!

The camel nuzzling the wallaby!
Check back tomorrow for a look at some of the pets who were blessed at our service today!